Public Lecture: Growing Pains

With Bendigo's population growing 9.5% over the 10 years to 2011 and The Age declaring Bendigo ‘cool’, Associate Professor Nicole Gurran’s lecture on lessons from sea change communities comes at the perfect time.  

surveying-standardDr Gurran - who is a Senior Lecturer and Coordinator of the Urban and Regional Planning Program at the University of Sydney - will be in Bendigo to discuss a series of studies on planning for growth and change within Australia’s coastal sea change communities from which other growing towns and cities can learn.

La Trobe University’s Associate Professor of Community Planning and Development, Trevor Budge said that this is an important lecture for the Bendigo community.

‘The lecture will give the audience an insight into best practice in the area of sea changers and offer valuable lessons that might be learned for inland communities such as Bendigo, facing the prospect of significant development or change,’ said Mr Budge.

The lecture will draw out some of the key risks and challenges that coastal sea change communities have faced in absorbing sudden population increases or fluctuating population bases.

Dr Gurran will also examine issues of balancing the opportunities and prospects associated with new housing development with the need to preserve environmental and cultural attributes and a strong sense of place.  

‘Beyond the major capital cities, many of Australia’s highest growth areas are situated within the most environmentally or culturally significant landscapes,’ said Dr Gurran.

‘Internationally, high quality cultural and environmental assets have drawn successive waves of “amenity migrants” - people who relocate from the major cities and employment centres in search of a new lifestyle, often irrespective of employment prospects,’ added Dr Gurran.

‘The appeal for amenity migrants includes attractive historic townscapes; forests and countryside; and lakes, rivers and coastal landscapes.’

Dr Gurran said lower cost of housing, increased leisure opportunities, increasing flexibility of work practices and shifting social values are attractive to ‘sea changers’.

‘More recently, the edges of some metropolitan areas are beginning to bleed into nearby communities, like Bendigo, once seen as high amenity destinations for weekends, holidays, or retirement,’ said Dr Gurran.

‘This metropolitan overspill represents a new iteration of amenity driven growth as newcomers seek well priced housing within the urban commute shed, but also value access to a coastal or rural setting.’    

Mr Budge said that Bendigo’s rate of growth makes this a significant lecture for the community.

‘Dr Gurran has an established track record in research in this field as well as an enviable list of peer-reviewed publications and we are delighted that she has accepted our invitation to present this lecture, which will provide much good for thought,’ said Mr Budge.

The lecture is part of the Arts and Planning Forum Series presented by the Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences.

The lecture will take place on Thursday 20 September at La Trobe University’s Visual Arts Centre in View Street and will commence at 6.00 pm.

For more information on the lecture please contact Jessica White by email at or call 03 5444 7766.


Media enquiries

Zerin Knight, Ph (03) 5444 7375 F +613 5444 7526 M 0428 463 161 E


Nicole Gurran is an urban planner and policy analyst whose research focuses on comparative land use planning systems and approaches to housing and ecological sustainability. She has been with the Faculty of Architecture, Design and Planning at the University of Sydney since 2002. Prior to this time she practiced as a planner in several state government roles, concerning local environmental plan making, environmental management, and housing policy.

Nicole is currently leading an Australian Research Council (ARC) Discovery Project on the impact of urban regulation on housing affordability in Australian cities and regions, funded to 2014.

She has led or collaborated on several recent studies relating to planning and the housing system for the Australian Housing and Urban Research Institute including ‘Affordable housing, urban renewal and planning’ (2011); ‘Quantifying planning system performance and Australia’s housing reform agenda’ (2011); ‘International Practice in Planning for Affordable Housing’; and ‘Planning, Government Charges, and the Cost of Land and Housing’ (2008/9).

Other AHURI projects she has collaborated on include ‘Innovations in Affordable Housing Provision’; ‘Housing Policy and Sustainable Urban Development’ and ‘Boarding Houses and Government Supply Side Intervention’.

Nicole has also led a series of studies for the National Sea Change Taskforce on the social and environmental impacts of lifestyle migration to coastal areas, including responses to housing affordability problems in rapidly growing peri and non-metropolitan communities. Her book Australian Urban Land Use Planning; Principles Systems and Practice, now in its second edition (SUP, 2011) explains and compares planning systems and policies in Australia, and includes detailed coverage of planning approaches for delivering diverse and affordable housing supply.

Nicole is on the executive board of the International Urban Planning and Environment Association (UPE) and on the editorial board of the journal Urban Policy and Research (Taylor and Francis).